London Taxi Cabbies: Info and Tips
London Taxi Cabbies have bigger brains!
London Taxi Cabbies are some of the most interesting taxi cab drivers in the world because they do not use GPS or maps. Instead, in order to receive the green badge, displayed in all London taxi cabs, and become a London taxi cab driver, you must pass the Test of Knowledge.
THE Test of Knowledge
This intimidating sounding test is not simple memorization as we know it for tests and classes. Studying for the test of all tests, called The Knowledge, takes years. London Taxi Cabbies must memorize ALL 25,000 streets and the locations of 20,000 landmarks within a six mile radius of Charing Cross and learn 320 routes between them.
Those studying for the test are called Knowledge Boys or Girls and often are seen around the city on scooters. On average, it takes 3 years to study for and pass the exam.
Cabbies have been pitted against GPS and other computer programs and so far…cabbies always win. They are quite proud of their ability to set routes in their head within seconds.
Increased brain power
Their studies are so intense that their brains actually change from all the knowledge. Did you catch that? Their brains actually CHANGE. The section of the brain that is responsible for spatial navigation, the hippocampus, is much larger in experienced taxi cabbies than in the general public. AND the longer the taxi cabbie has been driving, the larger that part of the brain becomes.
This is especially interesting to researchers because it is an example of increasing the brain in adulthood. Most research on brain changes had been done on children so researchers find this group of taxi cabbies especially interesting because all information required for taxi driving is learned in adulthood.
Those who finally succeed and pass the knowledge test have a tradition of the first fare…their first riders are taken free of charge.
Could you take the Test of Knowledge? Would you? Whether or not you are interested in becoming a cabbie, remember this….you can increase your brain power! You can actually increase your brain size!
Tips for using Taxi Cabbies in London:
How to Pay for your cab ride.
How to hail a cab properly.
It is illegal to yell ‘TAXI’ and they will not stop for you. Instead, stick out your arm when the taxi is approaching. Only the ones with the ‘taxi’ sign lit are ready for passengers. When the taxi stops, tell the driver where you want to go, BEFORE getting in.
London Taxi Cabs are Accessible to All.
Not only are ALL London taxi cabs handicapped accessible, they will also take assistance dogs at no charge.
Which to choose: black taxi cab or mini cab?
Black Taxis can be hailed on the street while mini cabs can only be reserved ahead of time. Black Taxis are a little more expensive than mini cabs but are a fascinating part of the London experience as your driver is incredibly knowledgable!
Natalie, The Educational Tourist